Landfill construction and demolition recycling piles up

Thursday, September 22, 2011
A new mini-excavator is sorting out more metal for recycling at the Plymouth County Landfill. The total adds up to 130 tons of metal since the first of the year when the Construction and Demolition Recycling program was added, Mark Kunkel, landfill manager said.

The latest recycling effort at the Plymouth County Landfill could give new life to about 2,500 tons of construction and demolition material this year.

The re-use is a result of the Construction and Demolition (C&D) Recycling program added to waste handling at the rural Le Mars landfill in January.

Asphalt shingles, wood without stain or paint, metal and concrete are picked out of construction and demolition waste by equipment attached to a mini-excavator, according to Mark Kunkel, landfill manager.

During an open hous Wednesday, Kunkel explained the impact of the equipment purchased with the help of a $20,000 forgivable loan from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

A 100-ton pile of asphalt shingles was among the most visible changes at the landfill during a tour Kunkel led for landfill board members, representatives of city councils in the county and county supervisors.

OMG Midwest, of Ankeny, which owns asphalt paving companies, has offered $30 a ton for the shingles which will be used in asphalt roads, Kunkel said.

More than 500 tons of wood which would have been buried at the landfill will be shipped to fuel an ethanol plant in Chandler, S.D.

Since the first of the year, about 75 tons of concrete have been piled to be crushed by a contractor to be reused as road surface materials at the landfill.

The sorting recovered 130 tons of metal which will be recycled and provide income for the landfill.

C&D recycling is being measured in another way.

"If we can get that kind of tonnage back out of there, that will keep adding onto the years of life at the landfill. which keeps everything cheaper for everybody bringing waste here," Kunkel said.

The mini-excavator has been used to sort waste more than 600 hours this year.

The landfill has also shipped 215 tons of tree waste for the South Dakota ethanol plant's fuel.

Kunkel estimates 65 percent of the waste hauled to the landfill is recycled.

At the current rate of recycling and burial, the site is projected to last another 70 years before the landfill is filled.

During the open house, Landfill Board Chairman Rick Bohle, of Kingsley, commended cities in the county for their efforts to promote recycling with programs such as collecting recyclables in blue-colored garbage bags.

These recyclables are hauled to the landfill and then transferred to the rural Cherokee landfill site which doesn't charge the Plymouth County landfill for the recycling and disposal, Kunkel said.

He estimated the number of tons of blue bags had grown from 87 in 2006 to 800 a year.

"The people of Plymouth County are doing an excellent job and it makes life a little easier over there in Cherokee, too," Kunkel said. "They get a better product -- it's cleaner, they get more use out of it."

The City of Merrill has applied for state grant funds to place a second recycling collection dumpster in the city, according to Bruce Norgaard, a Merrill councilman.

Norgaard said blue bag recycling from the southern part of the county is brought to the Merrill collection location and the dumpster overflows on a weekend.

"We do need something for the excess, because if we've got capacity, apparently southern Plymouth County will fill it up," Norgaard said.

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